In order to prepare for this year’s legislative session, I recently teamed up with Cinthia Vaszquez from the Washington Bus and David Perk from WA 350 to draft and host Our Climate’s “Washington State Legislature 101” webinar. This webinar was the first in the webinar series “New Year, New Needs”, an interactive webinar series aimed towards getting Washingtonians ready to advocate for climate justice this legislative session.
I was particularly excited to develop the state legislature webinar because the makeup of each state legislature slightly differs from one another, and having a good understanding of the government’s structure is important for effective activism. That’s why Cinthia, David, and I felt it was important to create a webinar which not only refreshed people on the basic logistical information about our government, but also showed creative ways to apply that knowledge when developing specific lobbying strategies. For example, rather than simply defining a legislative committee, we went on to further explain that since committee leaders can determine which bills die in committee, they are important legislators to lobby should a desired environmental bill be reviewed in their committee. The webinar also included multiple group activities, from tracking important climate bills from last session to practicing the various speaking roles often used by groups when meeting with state legislators.
Being the point person for developing and hosting this webinar was yet another leadership opportunity I have had the pleasure of completing during my fellowship at Our Climate. COVID-19 brought additional responsibility to preparing the webinar, as it was important to plan for the logistics of hosting an online webinar via Zoom ahead of time. For example, the guest speakers and I made sure to coordinate clear speaking and screen-sharing transitions beforehand. Hosting an online webinar further developed leadership skills when I had to navigate technological problems throughout the presentation. I worked behind the scenes with my team to solve technology problems during a situation that I initially didn’t anticipate, and we were able to work together to quickly solve the problems without interrupting the presentation. Efficiently troubleshooting mishaps on the fly are an important part of any leadership role, and is something that I will take going into meeting with legislators on Zoom during this legislative session, and my future activism endeavors.
It was really exciting to see all the audience interaction throughout the presentation. Throughout its entirety, audience members were asking important questions in the chat and sharing their own experiences with activism. Overall, hosting the webinar left me feeling excited to see so many Washingtonians passionate about lobbying for environmental justice this legislative session.
By Roshan Selden